Page 12 - 2017 Autumn-Winter Issue
P. 12

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                           The Unique Aspects of Sibling Grief

                           by Allie Sims Franklin, LICSW (Big A’s sister)                  didn’t always know where we were going! My mom used to
                                                                                           tell people that the only reason she got up after my brother
                           From the shadows we come, the surviving siblings. We are        died was because I needed cereal. There is a little more to
                           all ages: younger, older, twins and subsequent children. We     the story.
                           have our own story to tell, one that is often brushed aside
                           in the concern for our parents, the spouse, and even the        It is true, I was hungry. But what she didn’t tell you is that
                           children of our sibling. We are grieving, experiencing the      at first, she moved the cereal down to a lower cabinet, to
                           same intensity of pain, but not always acknowledged by          make it easier for me to reach. And then she put the milk
                           others. When a child dies, a future is lost; when a parent      in a smaller container so I didn’t need help pouring it. Then
                           dies, it is the past which is buried. The death of a sibling    the TV was moved to a shorter shelf so I could turn on my
                           is the death of a friend, a rival, an antagonist, a confidant,  own cartoons. By now, all the possible accommodations
                           and perhaps a co-conspirator. It is important to help give      had been made for me to be “self-sufficient,” -- mind you, I
                           siblings a voice as we struggle in the shadows, searching to    was 4. But every day I came back, needing something else.
                           find light in the darkness.                                     Finally, my mom, exhausted and looking to grieve in peace,
                                                                                           asked me what more could I possibly need?
                           My mother would tell you that when my brother, Big A
                           died, “the world went dark and silent. No longer did life seem  I told her that I needed my brother back. We cried together
                                                                                           while she explained patiently to her 4-year-old daughter
                           worth living. The sun grew cold and the music died. There       for the thousandth time that he could not come back. Then
                                                                                           I asked her when our family would be fixed, “unbroken.” I
                           were no happy sounds in our house anymore and the sun cast
                           only shadows of sadness.” When Austin died, we all thought
                           the sun had left forever. But much to our dismay, the sun
                           kept coming up and we had to keep going, even though we

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